Makar Sankranti 2018: Makar Sankranti is the festival of kites, sweets made of sesame and the arrival of spring. After months of gruelling winter, Makar Sankranti marks the day when Sun transmigrates from its zodiac and moves northwards from Tropic of Cancer to the tropic of Capricorn. Makar Sankranti is a harvest festival in India, it is called by many names across the country. Its called Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Uttarayan in Gujarat, Maghi in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab and Bhogali Bihu in Assam. This year the festival will be celebrated on January 14.
People fly kites in the mornings and take a dip in holy rivers like Ganga and Yamuna. It is a ritual which is believed to wash away sins. In Gujarat people start manufacturing kites in large numbers a month before Sankranti. Melas are a must during Makar Sankranti and the most famous one being the Kumbh Mela. Though Kumbh Mela is held in many places occasionally but it supposed to be held every 12 years in Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. It is called the Magha Mela or mini-Kumbh Mela in Prayag), Makara Mela in Odisha and Tusu Mela in parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal.
The festival is dedicated to the Sun God and is a marker for new beginnings. As the sun takes a new journey and when winter begins to turn towards summer according to Hindu Calendar. In Hindu epics it is called the Uttaarayan. In Mahabharata, Bhishma Pitamah waited for the sun to be in Uttarayan for him to die peacefully.
On Makar Sankranti, people traditionally share and eat sweets and laddoos made of sesame (til) and jaggery (gur) that helps in keeping our body warm during the still chilly weather. Another custom is kite flying, which is both fun and beneficial for health, as it allows us to stay in the sun. Kite flying also has symbolic meaning in Indian culture. It is also said that the higher your kite goes, the higher you will rise in life. Adding to the fun factor is the kite flying competitions. This is all about cutting other people’s kite strings while saving your own kite and making sure it soars high in the sky.